What To Do If You’ve Been Charged with Domestic Violence in NC

Close-up of hands of a criminal offender confined in handcuffs for prison concept.

Domestic violence occurs when someone commits violent acts against a person with whom they have a personal relationship. North Carolina law does not have a statute that identifies a separate crime of domestic violence. Instead, assault and other crimes can be marked as domestic violence charges based on the relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim.

Domestic violence in North Carolina is broadly defined as an act of violence committed against:

  • A spouse or former spouse
  • A current or former romantic or sexual partner
  • A member of the defendant’s household
  • A current or former domestic partner
  • A child or grandchild under the care of the defendant

Criminal charges are filed based on the applicable criminal statute. If the judge determines that a domestic relationship exists or existed between the victim and the defendant, the judge can include enhanced penalties for a domestic violence crime.

Penalties for Conviction of Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence crimes cover various criminal charges, including assault, threats, harassing phone calls, stalking and cyber-stalking, and violation of a domestic violence protective order.

Most domestic violence crimes are charged as A1 misdemeanors, which carry penalties including up to 150 days in jail and fines, and could result in the loss of your right to possess a firearm. A person accused of a domestic violence crime will often be served with a Domestic Violence Protective Order, also known as a 50-B. Violation of a DVPO is also an A1 misdemeanor.

Can a Victim of Domestic Violence Drop the Charges?

In criminal cases, it is not the alleged victim who brings the charges. Instead, NC prosecutors decide whether to bring criminal charges based on the evidence presented. Prosecutors file charges on behalf of the people of North Carolina based on the evidence available, and the prosecutor has the exclusive authority to decide whether and which charges to file against a defendant.

Prosecutors in and around Salisbury, NC, take domestic violence seriously and prosecute these cases aggressively. Cases of domestic violence are assigned to their own special courtroom with prosecutors who focus specifically on this area of the law.

Most North Carolina prosecutors’ offices apply a “no drop” policy to allegations of domestic violence, which means the prosecutor will not dismiss the case, even if the alleged victim wants to.

Convincing a prosecutor to dismiss a domestic violence case can be difficult, and these cases are rarely dismissed. To have any chance of convincing a prosecutor to dismiss domestic violence charges, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will aggressively challenge the state’s evidence.

When you work with the Stowe Law Firm, PLLC, domestic violence defense attorney Ryan Stowe will thoroughly review the evidence the prosecutor intends to introduce to try to secure a conviction. He will identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. He will also conduct an independent investigation of your case to uncover evidence that can be used to challenge the charges against you.

Defending Yourself Against Domestic Violence Charges

Charges of domestic violence are serious and can result in lifelong consequences for you and your family. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself and minimize the likelihood of a conviction.

Assert Your Right to Remain Silent

Anytime you are facing the possibility of criminal charges, you should remember that you have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

When police are called to a domestic dispute, they have no idea what they are walking into. If there is a chance that you could be charged with domestic violence, avoid saying too much to the police officers. If you are asked questions, you can assert your right to remain silent and ask to speak to an experienced domestic violence defense attorney.

Request to Speak to a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

The most important step you can take to avoid a conviction on domestic violence charges is to ask to speak to a domestic violence defense attorney.

Anything you discuss with your lawyer is covered by the attorney-client privilege, which means that no one—not even the prosecutor or the judge—can ask what you discussed with your lawyer.

Your attorney will explain the potential charges and help protect your rights so you do not unwittingly say something that could be used to convict you.

Do Not Discuss the Case with Family or Friends

A criminal charge is a stressful event. And if the police were called to your residence, you may be tempted to discuss the situation with neighbors and friends.

Avoid this temptation.

Unlike private conversations with your lawyer, which are privileged, anything you say to your friends, neighbors, and even your family can be used against you. At trial, the prosecutor could call those same friends, neighbors, and family members and ask questions about their impressions of you, what you discussed, and how it relates to the domestic violence charges. These conversations could be used to secure a conviction for a domestic violence crime.

Mount an Aggressive Defense

Many cases involving allegations of domestic violence are classic “he-said-she-said” situations. North Carolina domestic violence defense attorney Ryan Stowe will thoroughly investigate the charges against you, conduct an independent investigation into your case, and identify ulterior motives that can be used to show that the accuser is not a credible witness.

He will also explore technical legal defenses, such as problems with police investigative tactics, denial of your request to speak with a lawyer, violations of your rights, problems with the evidence and how it was collected, and bias against the accused.

And if it comes down to it, attorney Stowe will take your case to trial to defend you against the criminal charges.

The Stowe Law Firm, PLLC: Serious Defense for Serious Crimes.

The consequences of a domestic violence conviction are high and can have long-lasting effects on your life and that of your family. North Carolina prosecutors take an aggressive approach to allegations of domestic violence. In response, you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer who won’t back down.

Ryan Stowe is the principal attorney at the Stowe Law Firm and proudly represents people who have been accused of crimes in Cabarrus, Davidson, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Davie, and Stanly counties. He is dedicated to providing the highest levels of professionalism to protect your rights and your liberty. He proudly serves as an advocate, trusted advisor, and counselor to each of his clients.

To learn more, contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how the Stowe Law Firm can help.